Police in Alabama are facing a backlash after a 17-year-old was left heavily bruised following an encounter with officers. The boy’s bloodied image was posted by his mother and has been shared almost 80,000 times.
The parents of Ulysses Wilkerson are desperately seeking answers as to why their son ended up with a face swollen beyond recognition after an encounter with police in Troy, Pike County. According to Ulysses’ mother, Angela Williams, during the dramatic incident which unfolded on Saturday night, law enforcement officers beat her son so brutally he now has a fracture. “Troy police officers did this to my son while he was in handcuffs,” she wrote in a Facebook post, which has since been widely shared.
“He had trauma to the brain, swelling on the brain, and a cracked eye socket in three different places,” Ulysses’ father, Ulysses Wilkerson Jr., told WKRG. “They had him handcuffed when we got in there they said he was charged with obstruction of justice, the ambulance came to take him to UAB [and] they took the handcuffs off and dropped the charges on him,” he added.
Police officers reportedly saw the teen coming around the corner of a building in downtown Troy. When they tried to speak to him, he ran off, prompting a foot chase. A witness cited by local media claimed police had later surrounded Wilkerson. “You could see the swelling of his face [and] you could tell he had a lot of bleeding. He looked like he was passed out or maybe in and out of consciousness,” Brittany Patterson, who drove by the scene, said.
The Alabama State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) said police arrested Wilkerson in the area of Madison Street around midnight.
“During the arrest, the juvenile was injured, and was transported directly to Troy Regional Medical Center,” the SBI said in a statement, adding that an investigation is underway into “the use of force” by the officers.
While the teen’s mother is urging police to release body and dash camera footage of the incident, social media activists say law enforcement officials in Troy need to issue a public announcement.
“You need to acknowledge the problem… to insure your citizens you swore to protect are protected from abusive police officers,” one woman, Carley Kimberling, wrote on the Troy Police Department Facebook page.
“Disgusted in your senseless, racist, wicked police officer who beat this young man while in handcuffs. How can you defend police brutality while a suspect is already in cuffs? What is the point of the handcuffs? Very disgusting!” another person, Ray Ben, added.
“Handcuffed? Kicked in the face? I realize it takes a while to concoct a reason to make up a cockeyed story justifying what you did that boy. Unfortunately, you all will never have a good night’s sleep,” Carol Walden wrote.
Lt. Heath Carpenter told BuzzFeed that the investigation is still “open and active,” but couldn’t confirm whether the police department had placed any officers involved on leave.